Creative Counselling: Nurture Your Femininity
The success of the #MeToo movement has, undoubtedly, led to a rejuvenated wave of feminism sweeping the Western world. Women’s marches are calling for equal pay and equal opportunities and having a positive effect on the career paths of many, but at the same time we could be demonising masculinity and denying some of our feminine energy. Do I consider that progress?
I personally believe that feminism is about the equalising of the sexes to the extent that, regardless of if you associate as male or female, you will have an equal chance at education, success and prosperity. It shouldn’t be about woman-bashing or man-bashing (which is in itself oppressive – let’s not bash anyone) and shouldn’t be too aggressive – it should be about harmonising our culture and creating a positive environment where men and women work together as equals in society.
Femininity is not a dirty word, and it doesn’t diminish our movement. In fact, I would go so far as to say that our somewhat broken, modern society requires more ‘femininity’, or female energy, in order to heal, and even to thrive. This is why I always encourage my clients to nurture their own feminine energy, because ‘femininity’ is innately healing: to ourselves as women and to others around us. Embodying femininity and feminine energy doesn’t mean not being a feminist. It isn’t an ‘either/or’ situation. You can still hold onto your feminist beliefs while nurturing your feminine energy.
I have noticed a distinct lack of what is traditionally understood as feminine energy in my therapy practice, where clients may bounce into the room, drop down into the chair opposite me and communicate their woes with an aggressive attitude. Life has knocked the softness out of them and they are ready to do battle, forgetting that I’m there to help them rather than fight with them.
Popular culture encourages this kind of simultaneously defensive and aggressive behaviour. Soap operas, reality TV and shows like the Keeping Up With the Kardashians popularise slanging matches; Instagram offers up images of women who may end up wearing makeup and outfits not for themselves, but for other people. On the internet, exploitative pornography has become easily accessible and sets us back on the path towards healthy understandings and attitudes towards sex, relationships, adulthood and womanhood.
This all adds up to a profound rejection of innate feminine energy in society, where women feel that they must shout to be heard and bare all to be seen.
There is another way to live. You can choose to nurture your feminine energy and allow your softer side to shine through, no matter who you are. When I present the softer side of my nature to the outside world, I feel calmer on the inside. When I approach people with gentleness, I am not met with aggression precisely because I am not inviting anyone to an altercation with my attitude. When I move through my day as a capable woman, my day tends to run more smoothly because I meet problems and setbacks from a place of inner poise, rather than ranting at anyone who crosses my path and making a bad day worse.
So, what are the traits of feminine energy and how do we cultivate them – whether we identify as male or female? If we look back in history we can see that the values which people used to live by – chastity, virtue, modesty, gentility and so on – have all but been eradicated from our present culture. It’s wonderful that women are no longer physically strapped into corsets and are able to pursue any lifestyle, profession, sport or hobby they choose, but with that freedom perhaps comes a disregard for our sense of propriety.
I am not advocating that we step back into the dark ages where women were viewed as chattel, but I am advising that a touch more feminine energy could enhance and heal your life in a positive way. Let’s take a look at some of my thoughts on traditionally-considered feminine traits, what their benefits are, and how you can incorporate them into your daily life.
A degree of chastity can be good for your self-esteem as well as your relationships. Nurturing chastity means that you can foster faithfulness to yourself and can take the time to understand and respect your own needs.
Virtuosity means to be honourable and dignified. It means that you keep your word, maintain high moral standards and act with compassion towards yourself and others. It also means that you show restraint in your habits and have self-control. To be a called virtuous can be a great compliment, because it means that your values are apparent and that you’re living with dignity. People will always know where they stand with you, and you’ll be true to yourself and your values. Self-control means that you will have fewer regrets.
To be modest in character is to be unassuming – modest people are not braggarts. Modesty also means turning away from any vulgarity and being mindful of the things you expose yourself to – if it feels immodest, avoid it. The benefits of modesty are that you could receive less of the wrong sort of attention.
This is the softness I was talking about earlier. Cultivating gentility means that you show your nurturing side. Perhaps it means that you don’t use bad language, and that you interact with graciousness. A negative or aggressive attitude is the opposite of gentility. Be soft, warm, compassionate and nurturing. Be loving and kind. Forgiveness is also a part of gentility, so know when to give and receive apologies. Gentility doesn’t bear a grudge, which is its greatest benefit as it means that you aren’t weighed down by the baggage of your past.
And finally, beauty, which may be what immediately springs to people’s minds when they think of femininity. It certainly can embody feminine energy when we take time to beautify ourselves and our lives. Make the most of your natural beauty, nurture your body, create a beautiful home and carry beauty with you wherever you go. Surround yourself with all things bright and beautiful, wear pretty dresses if it suits you, buy flowers, style your hair. Enjoy the embracing of traditional feminine charm, and charm everyone you meet.
There you have it. Femininity is about much more than wearing pink and looking pretty. It’s about your personal development, character and conduct, and balancing the natural energies of masculine and feminine in the world.
Nurturing femininity and incorporating these traits into your life can lead to positive changes in your relationships, experiences and interactions because softness on the outside creates peace and calm on the inside. Embrace femininity; heal yourself. Until next month,
Marie Bruce x
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Marie Bruce Dip. T.C. MBACP is a qualified psychotherapist and a best-selling self-help author.
In this monthly column, Marie offers simple tools used by therapists to help clients and readers improve their mental well-being.
Marie’s books are available on Amazon UK, in digital and print formats.